Stratolaunch has been awarded a new contract by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to support the inaugural flight test of its second reusable Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle, known as TA-3.
The Talon-A series, featuring rocket-powered, autonomous testbeds, can execute an array of hypersonic flight profiles while carrying customized payload experiments on board. They will be launched from the Scaled Composites Roc, the world’s largest flying aircraft by wingspan.
This initiative marks Stratolaunch’s second collaboration with AFRL, following their first contract in late 2022, which supported the debut flight of the TA-1, an expendable configuration of the Talon-A product line. On May 13, 2023, the Roc successfully released the Talon-A separation test vehicle, TA-0.
“We’re pleased AFRL chose to support the flight of TA-3 and continues to see value in our approach to low cost, high-cadence flight test,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch. “We look forward to increasing the cadence of our flight test services for our customers in the near future.”
The Roc conducted its maiden flight in April 2019 and was originally intended to air launch space rockets. Following the death of Stratolaunch’s founder Paul Allen, the company changed owners and its mission was redefined towards hypersonic research. Stratolaunch eventually hopes to launch three Talon aircraft simultaneously from three pylons fitted on the central wing of the Roc.